Nemo Rangers, aided by a deeper pool of talent and the ludicrous scheduling which saw Stradbally lining out just 23 hours after regaining the Conway Cup, advanced to the Munster Club Football Semi-Final following victory at Fraher Field on Saturday night.
A weary Stradbally outfit, still feeling the after-effects of their county final success over Ballinacourty at the same venue, succumbed to Nemo’s early second half scoring flurry, instigated by the outstanding James Masters.
The opening 10 minutes of action belonged to Nemo, who surged into a four-point lead, with Conor Horgan opening their account after 67 seconds.
Paul Kerrigan’s inter-county class was written all over his third minute conversion, but 5/1 outsiders Stradbally got off the mark 90 seconds later through Tony Grey.
Alan O’Donovan rounded off a fine move instigated by Kerrigan and Michael Dorgan come the seventh minute, before James Masters, wearing 17, treated the Dungarvan audience to a trio of sumptuous points in the eighth, 10th and 14th minutes respectively.
In the 17th minute, Stradbally’s Michael Sweeney steered a shot wide from point-blank range when it looked to easier to goal, but it nonetheless signalled the Covemen’s intent and fine points from the towering Robert Aherne and John Hearn hauled them into the contest by the interval.
But within 70 seconds of the restart, Nemo Rangers effectively settled the contest when Masters palmed the ball beyond Oliver Costelloe after fine approach play from Paul Kerrigan.
Masters tagged an another brace of points within five minutes of the restart and when Kerrigan assumed free-taking duties in the 41st minute, Nemo were 1-11 to 0-3 clear.
Despite their depleted energy levels, Stradbally certainly didn’t throw the towel in, and Michael Sweeney ended their 18-minute drought with a well-struck point.
Substitutes William Morgan and Stephen Keane traded points in the 52nd and 55th minutes respectively on a pitch that was hosting its third match inside 24 hours having also hosted Waterford’s Western Junior decider earlier that day.
Dylan Mehigan completed Nemo’s scoring before Stradbally goalkeeper Oliver Costelloe brilliantly denied the goal-bound Paul Kerrigan three minutes from time.
A tough night for Stradbally was compounded by Kevin Lawlor’s straight red card for an off the ball altercation after 46 minutes.
Credit Stradbally for fulfilling the fixture, but let’s hope no club representing Waterford at provincial level at any grade ever has to line out twice inside a day again. Our club players deserve better than that.
Nemo Rangers: Micheal Aodh Martin; Aidan O’Reilly, Ciaran O’Shea, Alan Cronin; Kevin Fulignati; Tomas O Sé, Alan O’Donovan; David Niblock, Michael Dorgan; Dylan Mehigan, James Masters, Paul Kerrigan; Ciaran Dalton, Conor Horgan, Colm O’Brien.
Scorers: James Masters (1-5; 0-2f), Conor Horgan (0-2), Paul Kerrigan (0-2; 0-1f), Dylan Mehigan, Colm O’Brien, Alan O’Donovan and William Morgan (0-1 each).
Substitutes: William Morgan for James Masters (49 mins), Peter Morgan for David Niblock (53), Jack Horgan for Ciaran Dalton (53), David O’Donovan for Kevin Fulignati (56) and Shane Martin for Tomás O Sé (56).
Stradbally: Oliver Costelloe; Kevin Lawlor, Kevin Coffey, Jack Mullaney; Tommy Connors, Shane Lennon, Luke Casey; Tony Grey, Michael Walsh; John Hearn, Michael Sweeney, John Coffey; Robert Aherne, Shane Aherne, Paddy Kiely.
Scorers: Tony Grey, John Hearn, Michael Sweeney, Robert Aherne and Stephen Keane (0-1 each).
Substitutes: Eoin O’Brien for John Coffey (23 mins), David Grey for Paddy Kiely (43), Ciaran Cusack for Luke Casey (43), Stephen Keane (0-1) for John Hearne (48), Trevor Curran for Jack Mullaney (53) and Cathal Cusack for Kevin Coffey (56)
Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare).